More commercial truck and bus drivers are buckling up these days, with 74 percent of them using their safety belts in 2009.
This compares to only 65 percent of drivers using safety belts in 2007. The latest data comes from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

"Driving a 40-ton truck or a bus full of people is a big responsibility," said Anne S. Ferro, FMCSA administrator. "Drivers owe it to themselves and others to wear a safety belt every time they get behind the wheel."

The FMCSA observed 20,818 commercial drivers operating medium- to heavy-duty trucks and buses at 827 roadside sites nationwide for the survey.

According to the survey, safety belt use for both drivers and their occupants was 78 percent in states where law enforcement may stop drivers for not buckling up, versus 67 percent in states with weaker belt use laws.

In addition, there was higher seat belt use among drivers for regional or national fleets (78 percent), while only 64 percent of owner-operators were using safety belts.

Safety belt use rates for commercial drivers and their occupants were highest at 79 percent in the West, compared with 75 percent in the South, 68 percent in the Midwest, and 64 percent in the Northeast.

"Safety belts save lives," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "We applaud those who are buckling up, but we won't rest until every commercial driver is using a safety belt."

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